The amount of money involved in cryptocurrency trade is huge but the industry has the potential to grow even larger. As of writing, the market cap is just above $320 billion, recovering from the recent weeks’ plunge. We have often discussed that the crypto world is far from being 100% secure but that doesn’t mean you should not join. You just have to be careful when trading.
Hackers have numerous ways to compromise security measures and while hacking websites and phishing are instruments from the past, the birth of digital currencies gave fraudsters another useful tool – cryptojacking.
What is cryptojacking?
Cryptojacking is the act of using someone else’s computing power to mine tokens for you. Of course, the action takes place without the knowledge of the victim. A wordplay of cryptocurrency and hijack. Unlike hacking a wallet or an exchange, cryptojacking requires far less skills. In fact, you don’t have to be IT specialist to take advantage of it. Usually, the scenario is as follows – the hacker embeds the mining script on a particular website. When visitors enter the website the mining script becomes active and forces the user’s CPU/GPU to mine a specific cryptocurrency and send it to previously set up wallet. There are even scripts that are ready for use so you don’t have to write them by yourself, apart from modifying the wallet address. Coinhive is such an example. The internet is full of guides on how to use it. What I am trying to say is, cryptojacking is easy to carry and it is profitable. However, as anything else, it has its advantages and disadvantages and we find it difficult to outright say cryptojacking is bad.
The pros of cryptojacking
Cryptojacking is actually something that can be beneficial to both hackers and victims. Yeah, I know it sounds strange but just think about it. For many websites the main source of income are advertisements. Needless to say, they are friggin’ annoying and this is exactly where cryptojacking might be of help. In order to provide ad-free experience to their users, some places on the net let their visitors choose between giving off computing power or being exposed to ads. In other words, if you hate ads, you can just let your device mine some tokens for the website owners. Usually when we talk about this kind of cryptojacking the mining script does not exert the CPU/GPU. But…
The cons of cryptojacking
Unfortunately, not all cryptojackers are that friendly. Sometimes hackers embed mining scripts in foreign websites or Wi-Fi networks. In these cases the script forces your device to fully use its computing power for mining. When this happens, users often report that their PCs and smartphones become super slow, while the batteries die in no time. There are reports of devices that have been subjects to cryptojacking and are no longer usable. Simply said, cryptojacking can sometimes be dangerous to your electronics. Luckily, there are many browser extensions that automatically block Coinhive-like scripts.
In conclusion, we have to say that while many deem cryptojacking a cybercrime, it is far less harming than other cybercrimes. At least because it does not collect private data like Facebook and Google do. On the other hand, it would be better if cryptojackers do not use it in a way that is harmful to the mining devices.